Mar 27, 2019 by

Seven blessed years have passed since March 27, 2012 when Jessica’s father laid his hands upon my head and gave me a priesthood blessing in which God asked me to find my ancestors and do their temple work.

This day is beautifully sacred to me. I feel wrapped up in a warm blanket of my Father’s love and find myself smiling on the outside and rejoicing on the inside.

On the original March 27, I had no idea what lay in front of me. I could not imagine the pain and heartache and grief and seizures and injuries that were coming, nor could I envision the love, miracles, and mountains of JOY that would surround me. All I knew was I couldn’t walk and was in extreme pain. I wanted to be fixed. I wanted to be healed and I knew, just know, that I could and would be. My heart was open wide for a miracle.

And I got one.

Just not the one I wanted.

Instead my kind, wise, glorious Heavenly Father has poured out a miracle that is completely incomprehensible to me even still today. He asked me to find my ancestors and through that process my heart has healed in the most tender of ways. My capacity to love and sacrifice and obey has increased. My ancestors have walked this path of pain and injury with me – they have carried the pain, protected me from injury, and comforted me on dark, lonely nights when I was not sure I could continue to fight the battle that Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome has handed me.

On top of those miracles, He has provided a way for me to receive life-saving and life-giving stem cells. These cells have given me a chance to live a normal life. They have dramatically decreased my seizures and injuries and have given me hope for the future. Oh my goodness, tears of gratitude and joy just thinking about it.

Today I am basking in His peace. His love. His tender, personal care. He has kept His promises to me and I have kept mine to Him…a beautiful sheva.

On Saturday a group of friends and family will go to the temple with us to commemorate these past seven years by doing sealings for my ancestors. There are no words to express my gratitude for the privilege I have had to spend the last seven years falling in love with my ancestors and providing a way for them to make covenants with God and be sealed together as families. What a glorious journey!

p.s. Sheva is the number seven in Hebrew and it encompasses the ideas of promise, covenant, oath. One of our daughter’s middle names is Elisheva which means “my God keeps His promises.”

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three years of family history

Mar 29, 2015 by

three years of family history

Treasured days.

Sacred days.

This week is the 3rd year anniversary of the epic trip to Utah in the invalid mobile in which Kat and Jessica took me to Utah, insisted on me getting an MRI of my non-functioning hip joint, and we laughed and cried more than I ever thought possible. March 27th was the day Jessica’s dad gave me a priesthood blessing and God invited me on a precious journey of family history work.

A large group of friends and ward members joined us at the temple for a night of sealings. I spent almost all of the evening leaning/laying on a small couch with my knee propped up and beaming with joy. I could not stop smiling as I thought about the past three years of doing family history work and falling in love with my ancestors. We were able to complete 261 ordinances…which is a ton. A ton. My heart was full to bursting as family after family was joined together with priesthood ordinances.

There really are no words to describe the exhilaration and peace that came to me last night.

I am a different person than I was on March 27, 2012 – my body is more fragile, my muscles are weakened, my emotions are closer to the surface, I have less capacity to do what I want to do and more desire to do what God desires for me. I am more somber, less spontaneous, more prone to tears, more prone to grumpiness, less able to think clearly, more able to see clearly, more able to cope with pain, and less willing to want to do so. I feel things. More. The good, the bad, and the ugly feelings pile up inside me and I don’t always know what do with them. Crying is often the answer. While I am not at all sure I like all the changes, I am grateful for this journey. It has been hard, climb Mount Everest kind of hard. It has been beautiful and sweet and powerful and sacred and joyful.

I have not undertaken this journey alone. There has been an army of friends and family cheering me on from the sidelines, taking care of my body, helping me with the ins and outs of daily life, and showering me with love. Piles and piles of love that have been a lifeline to my soul. I have learned how important the love and support of fellow human beings is in getting one through hard stuff.

And then there is Richard. Richard, with his patience, rock-solid stability, faith in God, great ability to forgive, soft-heart, and willingness to do whatever he can to ease my burdens has been a fortress of strength. He has shown me again and again what love is. How love acts. What love looks and feels like. He has taught me what marriage can be. He has shown me what the love of a good man can do for a woman.

There has been a multitude of heavenly help as well. Angels have been by my side, lifting and protecting. I have been guided on my journey by God – He has often planted ideas in my heart, surrounded me with His comforting arms, and given me new perspectacles to see a situation with His eyes.

No, I would not give back these three years if I could. I will keep them and savor them and try to allow God to mold me into what He wants me to be.

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

I am still a run-down beach shanty with holes and leaks and all manner of building code violations, but I can feel God working in my life, making me into something else. It is painful and beautiful all at the same time. And today, I am grateful. Grateful that He cares enough about me to transform my life with His love and the things He has asked me to do.


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two years of genealogy

Mar 27, 2014 by

Today is the day I have been waiting for – the two year anniversary of my priesthood blessing when God asked me to do the ordinance work for my ancestors. Blessed day!

I will spend today in the temple with friends and family. Together we will serve my ancestors and provide a way for hundreds of them to be family units forever. Oh, the joy!

My heart is bursting with love and peace and gratitude. I am so grateful my Heavenly Father has asked me to participate in the work of redemption of my ancestors. I have been thinking a lot about redemption lately…about the atonement of Jesus Christ, the breaking of chains, the humbling of hearts, the transformation of souls. The power of Christ to save us, to bring God’s children out of captivity and into light and hope, takes my breath away.

Last night I attended Les Miserables at Hale Centre Theatre with my sweetie. It was our birthday celebration (we like to celebrate our birthdays on April 6, the midpoint of our two birthdays, but yesterday was the only day we could get tickets, so I made peace with the lopsided mathematical equation) and we were able to spend the whole day together! Throughout the play, the word redemption played on the screen of my mind. Poor Javert believes in serving God and enacting justice, but he doesn’t grasp the majesty of God’s love to change lives. I know God changes lives. He has changed mine. He changed Valjean’s. He changed Moses’, Abraham’s, Paul’s, Alma’s, Corrie ten Boom’s, and millions more. I passionately believe in a God of miracles who can help His children find lost contacts and keys, bring wonderful people into our lives, guide us to truth, heal our bodies, inspire us to serve and bless and love one another and a million other delightful acts of love. But more important than all of those wonderful, life-changing acts, I believe he can and will and does redeem His children from sin, pain, death, and fear through the atonement of His son. He releases us from the chains that bind each one of us. Chains of addiction, fear, hate, indifference, hopelessness, loneliness, and revenge are all able to be removed by our Savior. He is THE way. THE truth. THE light.

And not only does God pour out the miracle of the atonement in my life, I have the blessed privilege of helping my ancestors develop faith in the atonement for them as well. Many, many times I am prompted to pray for one of them and often the message is one of hope and trust and faith in the atonement. Our lives can be transformed if we will allow Christ’s love for us to break our chains.

So, I have been thinking of designing a necklace for myself. I want it to say 24601 on one side and something like “Let Him break the chains and forge the links.” Then I want another piece to say “I believe in a God of miracles.” and the other side to have our children’s names or our anniversary date or their birthdates or something. Then another piece of metal to say “To love another person is to see the face of God.” I am playing around with various options, so I don’t know what I will end up with, but I feel a need to have this message of miraculous redemption made into something tangible I can look at each day. If I have it made, I will be sure to share it here.

It is time to rise and shine and get ready for a day in the House of The Lord, communing with Him, and giving more of my heart to these ancestors I have come to love so dearly. I hope my feet and my hip hold up well!

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putting the trees together

Feb 16, 2014 by

I love, love, love family history work! I have neglected my research time lately as I have been so busy with my family, WUBA class, and healing. Today I decided to spend my Sabbath day working on Sarah Ellen Reherd’s family and listening to music about Jesus.


I love solving all the puzzles and connecting families together. Whenever I am done dealing with my own problems, it helps me to spend time building family trees and feeling a bond with these long ago ancestors I have fallen in love with.

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lawrence’s turn

May 14, 2013 by

Today is a banner day. Today my sweetie is going to the temple to perform the ordinances for my great-grandfather. This man, Lawrence Saylor, died in 1918 of a brain tumer while his wife, Sallie, was pregnant with their ninth child. Sallie was the first person I ever found in my father’s family over a year ago when I started my genealogy research. I immediately fell in love with Sallie and have branched almost all my research off of her. She raised seven boys and one daughter without her husband (their oldest child, a daughter, was married at sixteen and out of the house before Lawrence died) with lots of laughter and hard work. She took in washing and mending and cleaned houses for years to support her large family.

Sallie lived for thirty years without her husband. I am so in love with and incredibly dependent on my sweetie that the thought of being without him for any length of time much less thirty years brings me great pain. All of Sallie’s and Lawrence’s children are dead except for that youngest child who was born after her father died. I found her thanks to the magic of the internet and called her up one day back in April 2012. I asked her all about Sallie. She didn’t have any idea who I was because my father left home as a boy and didn’t have much contact with his family after that, but she was still willing to talk to me and share stories of Sallie which is probably why I love Sallie so much – she is one of the few people in this whole line of ancestors that I know anything about.

And now her husband, Lawrence, will have the opportunity to make covenants with his Heavenly Father. I hope he accepts them and that his family will be able to be united forever.

What a privilege this family history experience is!

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genealogy – i am doing it

Mar 27, 2013 by

It has been one year since our trip to Utah in the invalid mobile. Kat and Jessica made that trip one hilarious adventure after another. Doctor’s visits, MRIs, little teeny-tiny needles that are used on babies and yet still freaked me out, hospital gowns, a full-rainstorm of tears over delicious Thai food, puddles of urine all over my mattress and my valiant friends trying to change my clothes, mooning Roy, UT (completely on accident, of course), sheer terror on my part being overcome by the love, support, and courage of my friends, and a million miracles all orchestrated by God.

One year today.

It has been an amazing year. I am deeply grateful for the experiences I have had since that day. I am grateful for the lessons I have learned. I am grateful for the guidance of the Spirit and the care of my Savior. I am grateful to God for the blessings he has poured out upon me. I am grateful to my husband for his unwavering support, never-ending patience, and tender care of my aching body. I am grateful for an army of friends who have prayed, cooked, cleaned, hugged, smiled, cheered, laughed, cried, and carried me through this year. I wish every suffering person could have a battalion of my friends.

One year ago today Jessica’s father gave me a powerful priesthood blessing. I was sure he would deliver words of healing to my soul. Promises of a full recovery for my hip injury. Relief from the immense pain I was in. But he didn’t. God had a different message for me.

I was commanded to find my family and help them by doing their temple work. At the time I didn’t even know I had family that needed their work done and did not even identify my father’s family as my family. They were complete strangers to me and I had no interest in them and could not comprehend they had an interest in me. In that blessing I was told they are watching, waiting, and praying for me. I was told they love me. I had a very hard time believing those words at the time, but now I know they are true. I know that many of these ancestors have guided me to find themselves and their loved ones. I know many of them have had hard lives of pain and struggle and that these ordinances are providing a way for them to learn and grow in their relationship with their Savior. I know that as I continue to pray for them that their hearts will be changed and they will find healing and peace through the ordinances of the temple.

So how has this all worked out? Well, it took me over two weeks to decide to be obedient. At the time I didn’t want to do it. It was very difficult for me to accept that God had called me to something so big because that meant I had to accept on a deeper level than I ever had before that He loved me and could ask me to do a very specific thing for Him. I had to take His love into my heart and allow it to change my heart. I didn’t want to change. I felt just fine as I was. I also didn’t know the first thing about doing genealogy and I didn’t want to learn. I wanted my hip to be healed and to be free to do what I wanted to do. I wanted to run and jump and play and stop hurting. Perhaps the biggest thing feeding my reluctance is I had a sense of just how huge this undertaking would be. I could feel the weight of it settling down on me and I could not comprehend how I could do something so big. I knew I didn’t have the time, the skills, or the love to do it.

So, I hemmed and hawed. I cried a lot. But on April 15, after many days of delay, I started. That first day was frustrating. I couldn’t figure out how to do anything. I read outdated instructions on the internet about floppy disks and pedigree charts and about screamed in frustration that genealogy was living in the dark ages. I called my mom and ranted. She told me to call my Aunt Louise and find out how to start. Well, Louise was super helpful and explained everything and off to the races I went. Many hours later I had 30 people entered into my tree and was on fire with how exciting it all was. The first person I found was Sallie, my father’s grandma. I fell in love with Sallie. I even found her last living daughter through one of those people-search sites and called her up. Of course she had no idea who I was, but it was wonderful to ask her questions about Sallie and her family and get a little sense of who these people are.

The next morning my eyes popped open at 6:00 (which is a huge anomoly – I am NOT a morning person) and I opened my iPad and got right to work again. I did a google search for the next person on my list and was given a link to RootsWeb. I clicked on it and found all sorts of information about my ancestor. I clicked around some more and kept seeing this woman’s name, Rosalie, with her contact information, so I wrote to her. It turns out she is a genealogist and had been researching her family for the past thirty plus years. She is related to me on both sides of my father’s line and so all her research is the same research I needed to do, but it was already done! We have been talking and sharing information ever since and have made some amazing discoveries together.

Since then I have kept working on my family tree and my life has changed a lot. I shifted gears and it has taken some time to figure out how to balance wifehood, motherhood, friendhood, laundryhood, and all the other hoods of my life (who am I kidding, I haven’t even begun to find balance yet, it is still pretty much all-consuming!). I have added thousands of people, witnessed many miracles, received guidance from both the Holy Ghost and these ancestors, and invited many people to do ordinance work at the temple for my family.

If you are not LDS, you are probably wondering what ordinance work is…well, let me explain. When an adult is ready to make covenants with Heavenly Father, they go to the temple and receive their endowment, which is a gift from our Father to allow us to enter into covenant with Him and receive spiritual help for our journey back to Him. You can read more about it here. After we have made these covenants for ourselves, we can then stand in place of our deceased ancestors and make the same covenants for them. We believe these ancestors are then able to accept the covenants and receive the blessings of being in a covenant relationship with God and the spiritual help it bestows or choose to not accept the covenants. They are not at all bound by what we do here. It is a gift we can give them and they are completely free to partake of the gift or not. When we go to the temple for our ancestors, there are six different ordinances to do. Baptism, confirmation of the Holy Ghost, initiatory, endowment, sealing to parents, and sealing to spouse. Once our youth are twelve years old, they can participate in baptisms and confirmations and my girls and their friends go to the temple about once a week to do so. Only adults can do the last four ordinances and so I have enlisted many friends, family, and ward members to help me. In the past year we have done thousands and thousands of ordinances. It has been an amazing experience, far more precious than I can describe in a blog post.

Now it has been one year since God invited me on this path with Him and I am pleased with my work. I have done what He asked me to do. To me, that is huge. I am often not that great at being the most dependable person, my house is not organized or well-run, I lose papers all the time, I lock myself out of my car, and I am often late to appointments. But I have done this. I have stuck with it. I have put thousands of hours into this endeavor. I have not given up. Most of all, I have changed. My heart has been softened and been filled with love for these people I have never met in this life.

Today twenty to thirty of my friends will be joining me in the temple to do the sealing ordinances for hundreds of my family members. We will be giving them the opportunity to be joined together for eternity as husband and wife and parent and child. It is the crowning jewel of all the ordinances because it allows a family to be together forever.

I am so excited. I almost can’t breathe with all the anticipation that has been building inside me.

If any of you local friends would like to join us, please do! Email me and we will get it all figured out.

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shifting gears

May 22, 2012 by

I am a bubbley, outgoing (kind of in-your-space), fun, loving, loud person. I have lots of energy and I love to share it. I love to bring people together and have a great time. I love to connect with people. As long as I have been aware of myself this is how I have been.

But things have shifted. I can’t imagine that it is a permanent shift, but it feels permanent right now. It feels like my life has been so dramatically altered that I almost don’t even know that other person who is the life of the party.

I have shifted into something somber. Not depressed, not angry, but carrying a load of seriousness that has never been inside me before.

This all started back in March when Jessica and Kat took me on the save-Tracy-and-have-a-load-of-fun trip. I received a Priesthood blessing that poured down into my soul and gave me an entirely new perspective on my life. After that blessing, I knew I needed to do the genealogy work for my father’s ancestors. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life and although I knew the Spirit of God had spoken to me and given me a direct command, I was still reticent. It took me another two and a half weeks to work up my courage to actually start. Each day that passed I felt the weight settling in on me…the responsibility and the privilege of knowing God was asking ME to do something specific was a bit overwhelming. See, I know He asks each of us to walk in His path, love our neighbors, pray for our enemies, forgive, love, and give our heart to Him and I strive to implement those practices in my daily life, but I am like most Christians in that those things are an ongoing task…an ongoing becoming…that feels critical, but not exactly imperative to happen right.this.minute. It also felt quite different from other specific actions He has directed me to do. For example, when I was pregnant with Blythe we were given a clear prompting that we were to homeschool her. Although we didn’t understand why and it felt like an enormous undertaking, it also felt like a grand adventure that would take place over eons of time, certainly not something that I needed to have happen right.this.minute. Many times I have been prompted to go say hello to someone or to take someone something or give someone money or something like that. Those things too, have felt important, essential even, but they didn’t feel like this. They didn’t feel like my whole soul was consumed. They didn’t feel like my whole world depended on obedience. They didn’t feel so much.

But this does. It feels all-consuming, like every phone call, every conversation, every other task is pulling me from where my soul has gone. I feel like I am living in one place and my body is inhabiting another and I don’t know how to bring it all back together again. I can’t sleep – I stay up all night doing genealogy or thinking about genealogy. I have been working on this for about four weeks (really only three since I couldn’t do anything while I was gone for 10 days) and I have hundreds of names put into my family tree.

My heart is full of love for these people that I am coming to know through the dates and places of their lives and I find it hard to have enough of me to give to the people around me in the here and now. I am careful to focus on my children and to read with them and snuggle and listen, but everything else kind of feels superfluous right now and I don’t know how to fix that. I want to give my whole soul to everyone I meet…I always have…but right now, I can’t. Right now, most of my soul’s energy is taken up with this mission to find my ancestors.

So if you see me or talk to me and I am not my normal self, please know I am okay, I have just shifted gears. I think I will be back…sometime.

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